Making Big Steps towards Better Snow Removal in Minnesota

Can you believe it?  It’s snowing!  October 15th, and this is the third snowfall this week. It feels more like Christmas in Minnesota, our new temporary home, than Homecoming.

The snow doesn’t bother me much – it thickly dusts the ground.  But it reminded me of last year in Ohio, when Cleveland (one of the biggest salt mining cities in the nation) ran out of salt to spread on its roads.  That made for a very slippery winter!

For those of you who don’t live in snow-laden areas like Minnesota and Northeast Ohio, let me explain.  Simply put, when the temperature is around the freezing point, the plow trucks spread salt on the road, which keeps the moisture from icing up and making the roads slick.  It also melts existing snow.

But it also wreaks havoc on the roads, the sidewalks, and the watersheds.  It speeds up corrosion of metal in bridges and cars.  In a place like Minnesota, they have to use a LOT of salt to keep the roads decent.  Which results in the two Minnesota seasons: Winter and Road Construction.   (That’s a common phrase, but I’ve lived lots of places – believe me – it’s true in Minnesota!)

roadclosed

Last night I was watching the local news and they highlighted a research development between University of Minnesota professor Raj Rajamani and MNDOT – Minnesota Department of Transportation . Rajamani’s and Minnesota’s concern for the amount of salt spread on roads in the US every year led him to a brilliant invention – one that is such a simple solution, you have to wonder why no one every thought of it before.

The idea is to place a small wheel at the front of the plow, which measured the iciness of the road and immediately places salt (located at the back of the truck) on only the areas that need it.  Fairly simple, but it will save cities like Minneapolis and Cleveland millions of dollars in rock salt and premature road repairs.   It will also save tens of thousands of tons of rock salt from entering the waterways near roads.

snowplow2

This, to me, is significant.  It is exactly the type of measure I am trying to take in my own life.  How can I find a different way to do something that will reduce my consumption and waste?  How can I be creative every day and not take the “easy way” out?  It’s a work in progress!

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One response to this post.

  1. Ugh, I was so irritated it snowed out here in CT on the 15th. It’s too early for snow!! But yeah, in Ohio it is also winter winter winter construction. In CT they don’t seem to salt as much, they use sand, which leads to mud. Also, they don’t seem to do construction, which leads to crappy roads. I think I liked Ohio better.

    I do like the new innovation for salting though, I hope everywhere starts to use it!

    Reply

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